Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

C bar chord

Having trouble with a C bar chord where I am barring the 3rd fret. Can’t seem to bend my ring finger up enough so that the high E string (barred on 3rd fret so that it is a G) plays clearly. Some said I should try using the pinkie instead of the ring finger. Any suggestions other than not playing the high E string (G note)?


I’d probably use the middle, ring and pinkie for the 5th fret notes until I become comfortable playing the 5th fret notes using the ring finger.



I am not positive I am visualizing the chord right. If you are talking about a C9 (low to high X32033) and barring the B and E string with your ring finger at the third fret, AND the barre isn’t working for you, then I’d agree with the suggestion to play the third fret E with the pinkie. That’s how I typically do a C9.

If I wasn’t understanding correctly, let us know and we’ll take another swing at it.


Hey Barry! Welcome to the board!

I have had the same problem my whole life. The first joint on my ring finger doesn’t bend backward, so it always frets the first string at the fifth fret along with the others.

My solution, as you mention, is to use my pinky finger. It took a long time to develop the dexterity to use my pinky, but it opened up new possibilities that my ring finger just won’t allow.


So we are talking about a A shape barre? If so, ooops. Nevermind what I said.


C major barre. Index across the 3rd fret and, in my case, pinky across 2, 3, and 4 at the 5th fret.

It would be the same form for A#, though.


What John M said is about the best way to do it. It’s almost impossible to barre that without dampening the 1st string even using your pinkie for the barre (at least for me).

If you’re playing power chords on an electric guitar, barring both the 3rd and fifth frets is fine (most power chords are only accentuating the low strings in the chord). If you actually want to hear the first string, try to learn it and get comfortable with it the way it was previously mentioned.

Another benefit is that since it’s a closed chord (no open strings), you will be able to move it up the neck playing lots of other chords using that same shape, which like Mike said, is an A shape.

Good luck!


I use pinkie, too! My ring finger mutes the 1st string.


Yeah, sometimes I bar the entire A shape with my pinkie. It’s not that much different, or harder than using your ring finger.

I wouldn’t even be concerned about the high G note being heard. It might have a higher pitch than the melody anyway, Which is often not so good.


Hey Jack. Are you still talking guitar there? The mention of the high G makes me think you’re talking about banjo.


Hey Mark,

Yep. I was thinking from the perspective of barring a C chord on the third fret. When barring the first E string, it is a G note. (Now that I think about it, it a G note on string 6 as well).

Ya know, I was just double checking the chord diagram, and I see the 6th string being muted. If the context of the original question was concerning getting a clean G on string 6…(ramble, ramble, ramble). I freakin hate it when I start rambling.

Very astute observation, Mark.

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I always just skip the E string and use my ring finger. Unless you’re gonna be on that chord for a while it won’t matter


Thank you. I have considered that, and maybe that’s the smartest idea.


Interesting comment about the high G. Listening to Ben play, I don’t think I can hear the high E string. And actually, most of the time I think the strums sound better without the high E string.

thanks for the help!